Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) Certification

  1. CIA Certification

What is the CIA certification?
The Certified Internal Auditor, or CIA, certification is a globally recognized accounting credential offered by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) and is aimed at accountants who conduct internal company audits. The CIA exams test a candidate’s knowledge of current internal auditing best practices as well as the candidate’s understanding of internal audit issues, risks and remedies.

Who is the CIA certification for?
In a nutshell, the CIA certification is for anyone wishing to specialize in the field of auditing. An Internal Auditor’s main responsibility is to ensure that an organization’s risk management, governance and internal control processes are running as effectively and efficiently as possible. Internal Auditors are different from External Auditors in that in addition to looking at financial issues they also look at wider issues concerning their organization such as reputation, growth, environmental and personnel issues etc.

Are there any eligibility requirements for the CIA certification?
All CIA candidates must meet a certain minimum threshold for character, education and work experience.

CIA candidates must have a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (or an educational equivalent) from an approved educational facility. Additionally, candidates must have at least two years relevant work experience (i.e. work experience as an Internal Auditor). Candidates holding a Master’s Degree can use their degree to waive one year of the work experience requirement.

Candidates who do not have a Bachelor’s Degree (or equivalent) can still meet the educational requirement through two different routes:

  • Have two years post-secondary education as well as five years of experience as an Internal Auditor (or similar), or,

  • Have seven years experience as an Internal Auditor (or similar).

Documentary proof is required for all claims of education and relevant employment.

Candidates may sit the CIA exam prior to obtaining the required work experience but before the CIA credential is awarded they must complete the work experience requirement within four years of submitting their IIA application. Failure to complete the requirements in that time period means forfeiture of all fees and exam results.

Candidates must also submit a Character Reference Form which needs to be signed by the candidate’s supervisor, professor or a current CIA, CGAP, CCSA, CFSA or CRMA.

In many countries there are regional variations on the process to become CIA qualified. For example, in some territories there is also a requirement to be a member of the IIA before the candidate can take the CIA exam. Candidates should check on the official IIA website for regional instructions.

How do I obtain the CIA certification?
Before taking the exams, CIA candidates must show documentary proof of their work and educational history, as well as character and identification documents.

The exam consists of three parts:

  Part 1: Internal Audit Basics – 125 questions, 150 minutes to complete. Topics covered:
  • Mandatory Guidance
  • Internal Control / Risk
  • Conducting Internal Audit Engagements – Audit Tools and Techniques

  Part 2: Internal Audit Practice – 100 questions, 120 minutes to complete. Topics covered:
  • Managing the Internal Audit Function
  • Managing Individual Engagements
  • Fraud Risks and Controls

  Part 3: Internal Audit Knowledge Elements – 100 questions, 120 minutes to complete. Topics covered:
  • Governance / Business Ethics
  • Risk Management
  • Organizational Structure / Business Processes and Risks
  • Communication
  • Management / Leadership Principles
  • IT / Business Continuity
  • Financial Management
  • Global Business Environment

Sample questions can be downloaded here.

For each exam the scoring is based on a scale of 250-750 points. Candidates must score at least 600 points on this scale in order to pass. At the end of the exam candidates will be advised as to whether they have passed or failed. Successful candidates will only be informed of a pass – no score will be disclosed. Candidates who fail the CIA exam will be given a performance report, including an overall score, so that they know which areas of study to focus on for subsequent retake attempts. Candidates who fail the exam must wait a period of 90 days before being eligible to retake the exam (as well as paying the appropriate fees).

What does the exam cost?
Each candidate will have to pay an exam application fee, as well as a fee for each of the three individual CIA exams. The cost of the CIA certification varies, however, depending on the candidate’s status (there are three options – member of IIA, non-member of IIA, student/professor). A table showing the various costs associated with each level of status can be found here. Costs may vary slightly in the countries where local membership of the IIA is required.

What are the CIA recertification requirements?
CIA candidates are required to participate in a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) program. This ensures that the CIA holder maintains their skills and knowledge and stays abreast of industry developments.

CIA holders are required to submit an annual declaration of their CPE hours. For practicing CIA holders the requirement is to complete 40 hours of approved CPE activities every year. Non-practising CIA holders must complete 20 CPE hours. 25% of the CIA’s annual CPE requirement must in in the candidate’s specialty area of expertise. Failure to comply with the CPE requirements puts the CIA holder into ‘inactive’ status meaning the CIA designation may not be used.

Typical CPE activities include classroom-led learning, self-study, in-house training courses, seminars, conferences, presentations etc.

The following subject categories qualify for CPE activities:

  • Auditing and accounting
  • Management and communication (oral and written)
  • Computer science
  • Mathematics, statistics, and quantitative applications in business
  • Economics
  • Business law
  • Specific business topics such as finance, production, marketing, and personnel
  • Specialized industry areas such as government, banking, utilities, or oil and gas

Other specialist fields can be considered upon request.

For more in-depth information about the CIA certification and the certification process, candidates should download the IIA’s Certification Handbook.

Where can I take the CIA exam?
CIA examinations are administered through approved Pearson VUE testing facilities worldwide. It is advisable to check with your local testing facility as early as possible as to testing schedules, current pricing and availability. Check here for further details.